Pakistani Government turns to Sufis and creates the “Sufi Advisory Council” (SAC) to combat “extremism”

The Pakistani government are trying to use “Sufis” to help combat the extremism they are facing. I wonder what type of “Sufis” are part of this advisory council.

Islamabad is set to combat the ongoing insurgency by spreading sufi thoughts and teachings across the violence-wracked country.

Government sources on Sunday announced setting up of a seven-member ‘Sufi Advisory Council’ (SAC) with an aim to combating extremism and fanaticism by spreading sufism in the country, Dawn News reported.

The SAC chairman and some of its members are said to be holding their first meeting at the ministry of religious affairs in Islamabad on Tuesday June 9.

The council will also invite what it calls progressive intellectuals in an effort to promote the flourishing of sufism.

It is not clear whether SAC will play a parallel role in the presence of Council of Islamic Ideology which is a constitutional body.

The decision comes as Islamabad and other major cities across Pakistan have been braced for suicide attacks since the army launched an offensive against the insurgents in the troubled northwestern Swat valley and its adjoining districts in early May.



20 Replies to “Pakistani Government turns to Sufis and creates the “Sufi Advisory Council” (SAC) to combat “extremism””

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  2. I feel that this go awry. It saddens me that the secular elites of Pakistan rarely take into account the views of regular Pakistanis.

  3. “Islamabad is set to combat the ongoing insurgency by spreading sufi thoughts and teachings across the violence-wracked country.”

    That’s a good idea. (Y)

  4. When it comes to religion the Pakistani government is pretty useless. (Zia-ul-Haq and his pandering of particular uneducated scholars and the resultant “Hudood Ordinance” laws comes to mind).

    Instead of giving the people of Pakistan what they need to combat extremism; education, clean water, and above all supporting orthodox well trained Islamic scholarship (Most “ulema” in Pakistan do not even know Arabic), only then can you remove all types of extremism from society.

    Traditional Tasawuf is already common place in Pakistan, I have feeling this new council might be about the “fuddy-duddy” cuddly bear version of sufism. I might be wrong.

  5. Taken from Wikipedia:

    “The tariqa, the ‘path’ on which the mystics walk, has been defined as ‘the path which comes out of the Shariah, for the main road is called shar, the path, tariq.’ No mystical experience can be realized if the binding injunctions of the Shariah are not followed faithfully first.”

    Maybe its not such bad idea… that is if PakGovt implements the real Sufism.

  6. Brother suyuufi could you explain which bida’s you think sufi do?

    I must admit there are some dodgy sufies just like there dodgy muslims.

  7. Right I get that. But, wouldn’t a better idea be for the people to be educated about the peaceful nature of real Islam in general, over radicalism? Instead of a specific “variety” (for lack of a better word)?

  8. al-suyuufi, what is your nationality – I ask because it seems you aren’t from Pakistan, or the sub-continent, and are just talking about the Taliban from an outside viewpoint.

    “And this kind of shatters the opinion that al-Talibaan are sufi.”.

    No it doesn’t, ever heard of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi? Their LEADER is named Sufi Muhammad!!!

    All it shows is the ignorance of secular authorities trying to use religion to gain power. I think you might be making some vast oversimplifications of what you’re reading into. And you shouldn’t take such a staunch support of the Taliban, be more open minded, I’m not saying you should be against them, but you shouldn’t be completely for them either.

    There is much evidence that the majority of their funds come from the selling of opium and heroine. Consider the 2.3 million people displaced right now and what they’re opinions of the Taliban would be if you went and asked them.

    “I also feel that the term Tasawwuf is unnecessary, because we have words like Ihsaan from the Sunnah (and the point of tasawwuf essentially is to reach ihsaan).”

    A lot of salafi brothers use this argument against tassawuf. There are a lot of words within the deen that aren’t from the sunnah, like aqeedah, and tajweed, tassawuf just happens to be one of them.

    “Um, they were deobandi influenced during the Soviet-Afghan war….by the time that was over they were completely different.”

    Many of them are still deobandi influenced – and that doesn’t make them non-believers. The taliban are not a unified organized group of people, their are many different kinds of taliban, which have huge distinctions including the Pakistani and Afghani taliban. The taliban are like a hybrid between Deobandi and Wahabbi/Salafi thinking. Therefore, there is a range of thinking within the different kinds of taliban.

    One article by some shaykh doesn’t give you the authority to assume otherwise.


  9. Smells awefully like western intervention. The western governments have peddled so called ‘Sufi’ councils before, in the US and UK (to much failure), do they think encouraging the same level if blind strategy would work in the Muslim world? The Pakistani government is either taking que from the west OR its secular ignorance is being painted out to the world in bright colours.

    Some of the greatest leaders of Jihad have been Sufi’s, this isnt an issue of Sufism vs non-Sufism (or salafism or anything else). In fact even the Deobandi’s traditionaly have sufi tariqas. This is the Pakistani governments deliberate attempt to de-politicise the Muslims. Exactly as it is being done in the UK and US. The governments want an apolitical Muslim class, confine the religion to the home and separate politics and religion. The British tried to do it in India (by settling up false groups and killing the ulema) and now they just get the natives to fight amongst each other.

  10. Sigh…

    Sufis call Salafis Wahhabis…
    Barailwees call Deobandis Wahhabis…
    Everyone else calls the guy they don’t like a Wahhabi…

    Lol….talk about overused terminology 😛

  11. Bismillah
    Al-salaamu ‘alaikam wa rahmatAllah

    For those who seem to believe that Sufism and Bida’ are synonyms; if the accounts of those who are deviated are not accepted, please name one transmission of any of the conical readings of the Quran that does not have a Sufi in the chain. If you cannot then it must be that they are not deviated as a default state. Also Imam Nawawi (a mujadid), Allah have mercy upon him, uses the term Sufi in a respectful manner to those who were in the chain of transmission through which he received Sahih Muslim.
    There may be some Sufis (or those that claim themselves to be Sufis) were/are in error on some matters but you can’t label them all as the same. A lot of this discussion will return to how the scholars define bida’. Some have a very limited understanding of this and it is not in consistency with the majority of scholars.
    As for the Deobandis and the Brelwis they are BOTH considered to be from ahl al sunah wa al jama’ah. Maybe our focus should be on our similarities so we can come together to help in our situations of need.

    Wa ‘afwan minkum

  12. Bismillah

    Al-salaamu ‘alaikam wa rahmatAllah

    @ Sidi al-Suyuufi:

    Dont want to get into a tit for tat argument- but in narrating the issue is uprightness of the narrators is looked at. So if someone has deviated from the sunah how can they upright. In fiqh a person who neglects the the sunah purposefully such as sitting to eat would not be able to testify in court. This is not referring to belief. If a person who is deviated in belief but keeps it to themselves it may affect their acceptability of a narrator, Whereas if they propagate that deviant view then it becomes an issue.
    The issue we had was that as soon as the word sufi was mentioned people started to post words like deviant. Usul requires us to assume the best about Muslims.

    wa Allahu ta’ala aa’lam
    In need of your prayers

  13. @ al-Suyuufi, I just want to bring up what you said here:

    “But even the biggest enemy and refuter of the Sufis – Ibn Taymiya…”

    Actually Ibn Taymiyyah (Despite what a lot of his biggest fans want us to believe) was a sufi himself.

    He was a member of the Qadri Tariqa (The traditional path chosen by most orthodox Hanbali scholars). He was buried in the Cemetery of the Sufis in Damascus (and his grave is the only one left remaining there after the French destroyed most of it to make a hospital). He considered celebrating the Prophet’s (SAWS) birthday a bida’a hassan. He also considered worshiping on the 15th Shabaan as a worthy act.

    He spoke out against a group of “sufis” in his time, who used to pierce themselves with metal rods to show they couldn’t feel pain after reaching a “spiritual high”. This was against the Shari’ah and he so he wrote against them. Unfortunately there are Muslims today who have subscirbed to some of Ibn Taymiyyah’s incorrect teaching on Aqeedah (Which he later retracted from) and have taken him to be the greatest scholar of all time, which he really wasn’t. An orthodox Hanbali scholar here in the UK stated that Ibn Taymiyyah was only a Sheikh-al-Islam of 2 things, and one them was sufism. (Can’t remember what the other one was).

    Google any of this and it will come up.

  14. Sheikh Ibn Tayaymiyah {Rahimahu Allah} actually spoke on the topic of Sufism, indepth, in one of his volumes of work. Not sure whether it was Volume 10 or 11.

    He categorized Sufi’s. He clearly differentiated between the Mubtadi Sufi’s, and those within the Sunnah.

    Unfortunately many people due to ignorance of Sufism as a whole, don’t differentiate, and label all Sufi’s as deviant, innovators, Ahlul Bida’h. etc

  15. On a completely unrelated topic, why do people say “Zaytuna Inst.” and “AlMaghrib Inst.” cater to different sets of people?

  16. 1. Pakistani Taliban (the Mehsud + Fazlullah alliance) is one of the worst thing to happen to the state of Pakistan. They spread corruption and destruction across the land. They need to be completely gutted. They are thugs with arms implementing tribal justice. As one of my friend wrote, Pakistan faces a choice today: to live or perish forever” in this war.

    2. Most of us American ( and west Europeans) are only familiar with a apolitical manifestation of Sufi movements in the New World which was not the case in Old World Muslim historically. Pakistan State wants to institute Sufi advisory council because what they really want is the type that is politically quietist.

    3. Ibn Taymiyya, a brilliant scholar, is not the end be all scholar of Islam. People do not need to quote him consistently to prove their points. Its getting ridiculous in Muslim discourse

    4. Whether Ibn Taymiyya is a qadiri or not is disputed by a number of scholars. There is no consensus. Furthermore a recent post at have shown that Ibn Taymiyya doesn’tconsider mawlid as a bida hasana, It was nothing but selective quoting without looking at the greater context within which he brought up the issue of mwlid.

  17. Good lord, people. You can’t paint everyone that consider themselves “sufis” with the same broad brush. There are Naqshbandis and Shadhilis who follow the shariat ten times better than your average Muslim, make dhikr according to respected and long held opinions based on shariat, have made jihad, and are generally top-notch people. Then you have deviants who like to run skewers through their arms and make frenzied dances or say that drinking wine is allowed. Just roundly condemning everyone who could be labeled “sufi” only betrays your ignorance of the subtleties of the matter.

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